Trend Alert: Trauma Dumping

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Recently, several Twitch streamers have risked offending their audience by calling out an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent: trauma dumping in the comment section. “Trauma dumping” is a phrase used to refer to someone who speaks or posts about their traumatic experiences without considering the impact on the people receiving the information and without asking whether that person is in a good mental space to hear about it.

This issue is being increasingly spoken about online, for example the TikTok trend of sharing traumatic stories to the soundtrack of the K-Pop song Gangnam Style has been questioned. While these videos are an example of Gen Z’s irreverent sense of humour, the nature of the TikTok algorithm means they are shown to people who haven’t sought them out, which could be upsetting to young TikTok users and risk re-traumatising people who have had similar experiences.

Influencers have also shared how trauma dumping affects them. For example, a streamer called Toph told Input Mag how Twitch had been a safe space for him and his community, but the conversation in the comments of his live streams was frequently disrupted by viewers sharing upsetting stories. Other viewers rally round to support these commenters, showing the strength of community that can be found in these spaces, but the end result is that what was supposed to be an escapist distraction from real life for the streamer and their viewers is derailed. It also puts the influencer in the unfair position of being held responsible for advising the commenters, which they are not qualified to do.

The phenomenon of trauma dumping to influencers is concerning, but it’s not surprising. We know that young people are struggling with mental health issues and that social media is often their first port of call for help, ahead of seeking support from traditional routes such as seeing a doctor or therapist. We’ve also seen for many years how social media users form parasocial relationships with online influencers, encouraged by the intimacy and accessibility of these stars compared to more mainstream celebrities.

So, what can influencers do to tackle trauma dumping? One streamer decided to speak out on the issue on Twitter by posting an explainer thread which gained many thousands of likes and retweets. Taylor Quinn, known as Witchy TQ, eloquently explained: “Streamers are asking viewers not to “trauma dump” not because they don’t want you to access help, or avoid talking about what’s happening in your life, but because they are not equipped to help you in the way you need.” Encouraging their followers to consider the impact of their comments will undoubtedly help, but it may not be enough to tackle this expansive issue, which affects influencers much more broadly than just those on Twitch, and is a symptom of a wider mental health crisis and lack of access to support for young people.

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